Toronto Through My Lens

Category: Sculptures (Page 1 of 14)

The Max Tanenbaum Sculpture Garden

The Max Tanenbaum Sculpture Garden is a semi-hidden Toronto gem. It sits on the west side of the Hennick Bridgepoint Hospital beside the old Don Jail at Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street East. I call it “semi-hidden” because the figures in the Sculpture Garden can only be seen from the Don Valley Parkway; they are practically invisible from either Broadview Avenue or Gerrard Street East.

These are marvellous figures, created by Canadian sculptor William Lishman (1939-2017). Since 2015, twenty of his works have been displayed outside Bridgepoint, a hospital for patients with complex chronic disease and disability.

The works of this talented creator are displayed at a number of Canadian locales. Amazingly, Lishman was dyslexic and colour blind, which must have made for an interesting time when creating these sculptures.

Designed in memory of the late businessman and philanthropist Max Tanenbaum, the colourful, life-sized pieces at Bridgepoint aim to celebrate the human spirit. According to a post on Hennick Bridgepoint Hospital’s website, the figures aim to express the capabilities of the physical form through dance, sport and movement. The sculptures complement our building and speak to the hope and aspiration we bring to our patients, families, and the community.

We are privileged to have an installation by William Lishman on our campus. These life-sized sculptures depicting human figures engaging in dance, sports and movement evoke a sense of wonder, The artwork inside and outside of our hospital has a positive impact on our patients, connecting them to the life of the community and city. We’re grateful to the Spiro Family who donated the work, which was designed in memory of the late Max Tanenbaum (1909-1983).
Dr. Gary Newton, President and CEO of Sinai Health System

If you would like to view a short YouTube video highlighting the Sculpture Garden, you will find one below:

A Few Bonus Shots

As I was leaving the Hospital grounds, I noticed these Sorel Etrog sculptures by the front doors:

The Max Tanenbaum Healing Centre

As an adjunct to this Sculpture Garden, The Max Tanenbaum Healing Garden can be found on the 14th floor atrium of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. The Princess Margaret website describes this garden as:

cultivated patterns of formal French gardens incorporating the artistry of hand-blown glass flowers, enclosed by an artificial boxwood hedge. The vertical walls feature decorative panels that add another visual dimension and unify a garden rich in colour, creativity and natural forms. The hand blown glass flowers have each been created to blend together in a colourful garden that resembles a rainbow; red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple are all represented in the garden with flowers that carry one colour or a blend of multiple colours and tones.

The few shots I’ve seen of the Healing Garden look amazing and I plan to feature it in a future post.

New Timothy Schmalz Sculptures

As I roam the city with camera in hand I’ve discovered one sculptor whose work appears in several places: Timothy Schmalz.

Timothy Schmalz is a prolific and gifted Canadian sculptor from St. Jacobs, Ontario. Most of his work personifies his devotion to Catholicism. Cast editions of his life-sized sculptures have been installed in major cities in front of some of the most historically significant Christian sites in the world.

Notable Work

Timothy Schmalz is best known for his Homeless Jesus sculpture he created in reaction to the many homeless living on the streets. That bronze sculpture was intended to be provocative, with Schmalz commenting: That’s essentially what the sculpture is there to do. It’s meant to challenge people.

As of today, over 50 bronze casts of Homeless Jesus are installed in religiously significant and historical locations around the world from Vatican City to Capernaum, Israel to Johannesburg, South Africa to Singapore.

We are fortunate to have a copy of Homeless Jesus here in Toronto, located at the doors to Regis College, 100 Wellesley Street West. If you would like to read my post on Toronto’s Homeless Jesus, you will find it here.

When I Was Sick

During the course of one day I recently came across two new (to me) sculptures by Timothy Schmalz. The first is entitled When I Was Sick and it can be found in front of the Church of the Redeemer at 162 Bloor Street West, on the corner of Bloor Street West and Avenue Road. It was unveiled on September 24, 2023:

Let The Oppressed Go Free

The other new Schmalz sculptor I’ve discovered is entitled Let The Oppressed Go Free. This enormous sculpture is located in front of Regis College at 100 Wellesley Street West, at the corner of Queen’s Park Crescent. The work was unveiled on October 25, 2023.

Schmalz was requested by the Vatican to create a sculpture on the theme of human trafficking. The depicts former slave St. Josephine Bakhita opening a trapdoor as she frees figures that represent human-trafficking victims.

The sculpture contains almost a hundred figures representing the different faces of human trafficking including sex exploitation, forced labour, debt bondage and more. Men, women, and children, including an infant are shown to demonstrate the wide range of victims of human trafficking:

The sculpture’s inspiration and name come from the Bible passage Isaiah 58:6:

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

The original of this massive bronze sculpture is installed in the Shrine of St. Bahkita in Schio, Italy.

Honourable Mention

Also of note, there is a Timothy Schmalz sculpture in front of St. Paul’s Bloor Street (227 Bloor Street East), entitled When I Was a Stranger. This piece invites pedestrians to sit on bronze stools, joining the cloaked figure of Jesus Christ. I will be publishing a future post about this sculpture, so stay tuned for that.

If you would like to learn more about the artist, Timothy Schmalz’s website is found here.

The Toronto Inukshuk

The Toronto Inukshuk resides in Toronto Inukshuk Park at 789 Lake Shore Boulevard West, west of Coronation Park.

The sculpture is one of the largest of its kind in North America, according to the City of Toronto. It stands 30 feet high and its arms span 15 feet. Made of granite, it
weighs about 50 tonnes. The Inukshuk was unveiled in 2002 to commemorate World Youth Day, when Pope John Paul II visited the city.

The Inukshuk, a sculpture made up of piled stones, is a familiar symbol of the Inuit, mostly found in the Arctic landscape and often used as a navigational tool.

This Inukshuk was designed by Nunavut-born artist Kellypalik Qimirpik.

Former Mayor Mel Lastman spoke at the 2002 unveiling. His speech is engraved on this granite slab next to the Inukshuk. Part of it says:

World Youth Day has been a true navigational guide for millions of young people throughout the world. The Toronto Inukshuk invites each one of us to become beacons of light and hope, striving for justice and peace in this world.

“Across Time and Space, Two Children of Toronto Meet”

In 2011 sculptor Ken Lum completed his work: Across Time and Space, Two Children of Toronto Meet. The piece is located west off Bay Street and south of Dundas Street West, directly behind City Hall. It involves a long passageway from Bay Street to City Hall.

Two bronze sculptures placed on either end of this corridor represent historical immigrants to the area in the form of two children from different eras. The boy wears traditional Chinese clothing, closely related to the clothing worn during the Qing dynasty including the six paneled “Little Hat,” and the tunic with a mandarin collar and frog buttons which were popular during this period.

Pinned lettering in oxidized bronze separating the children reads: Across time and space, two children of Toronto meet…

The girl wears a simple collared, long sleeve dress with a bandana tying her hair.

The work calls the audience to think about the children’s divergent histories which have preceded their settling in Toronto. Specifically, the figure of the boy in traditional clothing is symbolic of the Chinese immigrant community through his cultural clothing. In contrast, the figure of the little girl in European dress, becomes a reminder of Canada’s white immigrant history, which has interacted directly with the Chinese immigrant history in the nation.

By facing the children toward one another, Lum uses his art to point towards a complicated web of national settler histories that converge and negotiate with one another, which has taken place in this very area of the downtown core.1

1Kaliyah Macaraig, Open Library

“Dream Ballet”

Dream Ballet by Hamilton native Harley Valentine sits at the southeast corner of Yonge Street and Front Street East, outside Meridian Hall (formerly the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts). Installed in 2016, the three metal abstract sculptures are 5.4-metres (18 feet) high.

The three towering figures are abstract representations of dancers and pay homage to the Meridian Hall’s former tenants, the National Ballet of Canada. The sculptor has remarked that if kids want to skateboard around the pieces, that’s fine with him; Valentine views skateboarding as a type of dance, and dance as a form of kinetic sculpting,

Sculptor Harley Valentine, with a model of his installation “Dream Ballet”

Harley Valentine has public art installations in several places in the Toronto area — including the Barbarians at the Gate exhibition at Campbell House on Queen Street West, a sculpture park in Scarborough, a permanent piece outside Humber College and a temporary installation in the Yorkville area. He’s also bidding on other projects in Palm Desert, California, New York and Detroit.

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